In the flash of a moment your ankle can go from totally fine to totally painful. Spraining an ankle can be a tricky thing, although it is very common there is no easy way to know if your ankle is sprained, fractured, or broken.
Unlike other parts of the body, treating the feet and ankles properly and urgently is extremely important because they support the body's entire weight and take all the beating and forces from day to day life. A foot or ankle injury untreated can turn into a long term condition such as chronic ankle pain, which usually occurs from an untreated injury that never fully recovered or didn’t properly recover. We always recommend seeking professional medical attention when sustaining an injury such as an ankle sprain or fracture.
Ankle Sprain, Ankle Fracture, or Broken Ankle Bone?
There are different levels of ankle sprains, from a mild stretch of a ligament to something as severe as a broken bone in the ankle, and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference without medical diagnosis using x-ray.
An ankle sprain involves ligaments, the bands of tissue in the body that hold bones together. Ligaments are there to hold bones together and stabilize them, but when the bones are pushed beyond their regular range of motion it can damage a ligament causing a sprain, partial tear, or complete tear.
Symptoms of a sprain may include:
• Pain, especially when bearing weight
• Tenderness to the touch
• Restricted range of motion
• Instability in the Ankle
When treating an injury at home always remember R.I.C.E.
Rest. Avoid pain causing activities and avoid bearing any weight on the injury
Ice. Use ice immediately after injury for 15 to 20 minutes and repeat bi-hourly while awake.
Compression. Compress the injury with an elastic bandage to compress swelling, but do not hinder circulation of blood by wrapping too tightly. Always start the wrap at the farthest end from the heart.
Elevation. Elevate the ankle above the level of the heart, especially during the night. Gravity will help reduce swelling by draining extra fluid.
Diagnosing a sprain vs a fracture without x-ray is often impossible. A fracture is known commonly as a broken bone. The ankle is made up of 3 bones, the tibia and fibula which make up the lower part of the leg and sit on the talus bone in the foot. If any part of this boney complex becomes fractured it is known as an ankle fracture or broken ankle.
Symptoms of a an ankle fracture are the same as an ankle sprain, but they may be more extreme and if the fracture is severe they can include visible deformities and stretching of the skin where bones have become dislodged.
Should you seek medical attention?
There are several ways to know if you should immediately seek medical attention or schedule an appointment with your podiatrist.
You should schedule with your podiatrist if:
• You cannot bear weight on your ankle
• Pain is intolerable with over the counter medication
• You are unable to reduce pain at home
Seek immediate medical attention if:
• Gross deformity of the ankle
• Visible bones
• Intolerable pain
• Inability to move toes or ankle
• Cold or blue foot
At Highland Podiatry we are always on call with our emergency hotline, any hour of the day just call (440) 473-0550 and Dr. Ryan Huntsman or Dr. Elie Elias will be there to treat your injury.